NH House advances bill that would ban transgender girls from playing sports

Advocates rebuke House vote and urge State Senate to oppose harmful bill

The New Hampshire State House of Representatives today voted 189-182 to advance HB 1205, a bill that would exclude transgender students from participating in school sports teams. The bill now moves onto the State Senate.

LGBTQ+ rights, public education, and child welfare advocates gave the following statements:

Linds Jakows, Founder of 603 Equality, said, “Today, the so-called ‘Live Free or Die’ State chose to exclude transgender girls from participating on girls sports teams, cruelly taking away opportunities to learn teamwork, improve mental health, and belong with other girls. Now, the NH State Senate must affirm clearly, as the NH Interscholastic Athletic Association has done since 2015, that all girls should be allowed to participate in girls’ sports, including transgender girls.” 

Deni Hatch PhD, Management and Behavioral Science Lecturer at the Peter T Paul College of Business and Economics and Board President of 603 Equality, said, “As an advocate for equality and fairness in the Granite State, I firmly believe in the importance of nurturing an inclusive sports environment that welcomes all participants, no matter their gender identity. The state of New Hampshire has always prided itself on its strong community values and its commitment to ensuring the rights and well-being of every resident. By supporting the inclusion of transgender girls in sports, we uphold these principles and foster a culture of acceptance and respect within our young sporting communities. This move to ban transgender girls from competing in sports not only harms transgender athletes by eliminating their equal opportunities to compete, learn, and grow with others, but it also tarnishes the experiences of all participants by rejecting diversity and not promoting a healthy, competitive spirit.” 

Chris Erchull, Attorney at GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, said, “Transgender students want the chance to play school sports for the same reason other kids do: to be a part of a team where they feel like they belong. That’s what we want for all students, and it’s why our state and federal laws make clear that singling out transgender students for exclusion is wrong. Politicians’ ongoing, relentless targeting of transgender youth is sending an extremely harmful message not just to trans kids but to all kids. The Senate should vote to uphold New Hampshire’s bedrock values of freedom and fairness for all and reject this cruel and unnecessary bill.”

Deb Howes, President of AFT-New Hampshire, said, “We believe all Granite State children have the right to go to a public school where they can feel safe, can feel welcomed and can feel they belong. As much as we would like for all students to be motivated by academics and a love of learning, for many students it is participation on a sports team and the camaraderie it brings that excites them and keeps them engaged in their school experience. School sports teams are where many students learn important lessons of teamwork, cooperation and leadership and where they develop life-long friendships. The state should not pass laws forcing us to discriminate against some students and deny them the chance to participate in these time-honored school activities with the other students in their communities.”

Courtney Reed, Policy Advocate at the ACLU of New Hampshire, said, “Our hearts break for the young transgender Granite Staters who are being relentlessly targeted by state lawmakers during this challenging legislative session. Trans students belong on our sports teams and in our schools, and all trans youth should be celebrated and protected for who they are. HB 1205 runs against federal and state law, and would discriminate against transgender youth in ways that compromise their health, social and emotional development, and safety. We urge the state senate to oppose this harmful bill.”

Rev. Heidi Carrington Heath, Executive Director, Seacoast Outright, “We are deeply disappointed in today’s vote on HB1205. NH has consistently affirmed the rights and dignity of all students, and LGBTQ+ youth. Singling out a vulnerable group of students for exclusion from sports at school is not in line with Granite State values. Trans girls, like all girls and women, deserve to be fully included. Team sports offer a protective factor, and sense of belonging for many students. Stripping an already vulnerable population of their right to participate puts them at higher risk. Trans girls and women simply want a chance to participate, and be included – nothing more, nothing less. All we are asking is to let our kids play.”

The New Hampshire Women’s Foundation said, “HB 1205 discriminates against trans students who deserve to be accepted and included in our schools and school activities. This legislation would move us backwards from the progress New Hampshire has made in recognizing transgender people in nondiscrimination law. Despite growing public awareness of gender identity and support for transgender people, they still face disproportionate rates of discrimination, harassment, and violence. That must change. Transgender girls, like all girls, deserve to be treated fairly and have access to educational opportunities like all other students.”

Grace Murray, Political Director at New Hampshire Youth Movement, said, “Barring trans girls from participating in women’s sports is discriminatory and unconstitutional. This ban blocks young trans girls from experiencing the joys of teamwork, dedication, and exercise that come with being on a team. Time and time again young NH athletes have come forward and said they appreciate having trans teammates and this body is choosing to ignore the voices of young people and pass dangerous and discriminatory legislation.”  

Emma Sevigny, Children’s Behavioral Health Policy Coordinator at New Futures, said, “All students deserve the same opportunities to develop the social and behavioral skills that sports cultivate. New Futures is disappointed that the House chose to specifically discriminate against trans female athletes today by the passage of HB 1205 and deny them the ability to develop these critical life skills.  All Granite State youth will suffer when one group is discriminated against.”